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CROW’s newest intern reaps the benefits of working with animals

December 14, 2016
By ASHLEY GOODMAN ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

CROW's newest DVM intern Spencer Kehoe has been with the clinic for the last five months. Originally from California, Kehoe heard about the facility through friends then was matched through the National Resident Matching Program, which aids medical students in finding programs within their field.

Kehoe's day begins at 8 a.m. He typically sees 10 to 20 patients of all different shapes and sizes per day. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Kehoe and staff make their morning rounds to check on all the patients in the hospital.

"We'll go through the ones that are still getting treatment, all the ones in ICU and the babies," Kehoe said. "Then we'll go into morning procedures and vet exams so if the animals need blood work, radiographs, anesthesia for a procedure or if we need to reassess a patient, we'll do all those first thing in the morning so that patients can get fed and get their meds. The hospital usually has anywhere from 200 to 400 patients on the grounds."

Article Photos

Dr. Spencer Kehoe.


By noon, Kehoe says that is when they usually receive new patients and lately, CROW has seen quite an influx.

"Because it's wildlife, a lot of the cases we see are related to human interference. We get a lot of critical patients so it's a lot of emergency medicine which I enjoy a lot because it's fast paced. Usually Dr. Woo and I are trading off on the critical patients. We try to get to those first. Once we get the new patients, we do charts an treatments throughout the day as well," he said.

Since being at CROW, Kehoe has learned how to do minimally invasive surgeries and orthopedic surgeries.

"I've never done orthopedics prior to coming here. Within the first week, I did an orthopedic surgery. I've gained tons of surgical experience that I didn't have before. I did a lot of surgery on dogs and cats but never on exotics. I've learned the different mechanics, so that's been phenomenal," Kehoe said. "I've also learned how to run a hospital. Dr. Barron is there for support, she's our medical director but she's very busy so Dr. Woo and I have to have a bigger picture of what's going on and make sure that the patients are getting taken care. It was a challenge initially but now I feel like I'm getting into the swing of it and it's becoming more natural."

One of the perks of Kehoe's job is that he gets to see the results first-hand. After a difficult surgery last week, he released a pelican that ingested a fish hook and had two of them stuck in its wing and its side.

"The fish hook had poked through the stomach and gone into the body cavity. So, I had to go in and remove it or else it would have created a horrible infection and eventually kill the bird. It was walled off right next to some major vessels near the spleen so I had to delicately dissect it out and then the patient started to become septic after the surgery because it already had an infection in one of the air sacs, then we had to open the air sacs to get to the surgical site. We can try and flush as best we can but with birds you don't want to flush too much because then you can drown them because of the way their respiratory system is set up so I flushed as best I could. Within 24 hours he had respiratory compromise and started to go downhill so we had to put him on oxygen and change antibiotics and 24 to 48 hours he was doing much better. He turned around big time," he said.

Eventually, Kehoe would like to end up working for a zoo one day. He has his sights set on being a mentor and doing conservation research.

"I'd like to be a clinical veterinarian at a big zoo that allows me to do research and conservation work. Part of why I like zoo medicine so much is because you're focused on the individual patient as opposed to the whole population, which is still important, but I like delving into the patient's medical problems and figuring it out and trying to treat it," Kehoe said.



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